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Enabling large-scale genome editing by reducing DNA nicking

By Cory J. Smith, Oscar Castanon, Khaled Said, Verena Volf, Parastoo Khoshakhlagh, Amanda Hornick, Raphael Ferreira, Chun-Ting Wu, Marc Güell, Shilpa Garg, Hannu Myllykallio, George Church

Posted 15 Mar 2019
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/574020

To extend the frontier of genome editing and enable the radical redesign of mammalian genomes, we developed a set of dead-Cas9 base editor (dBE) variants that allow editing at tens of thousands of loci per cell by overcoming the cell death associated with DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) and single-strand breaks (SSBs). We used a set of gRNAs targeting repetitive elements – ranging in target copy number from about 31 to 124,000 per cell. dBEs enabled survival after large-scale base editing, allowing targeted mutations at up to ~13,200 and ~2610 loci in 293T and human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs), respectively, three orders of magnitude greater than previously recorded. These dBEs can overcome current on-target mutation and toxicity barriers that prevent cell survival after large-scale genome engineering. One Sentence Summary Base editing with reduced DNA nicking allows for the simultaneous editing of >10,000 loci in human cells.

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